Badgers on the Beach is a new food cart currently vending in front of the UW Geology building on West Dayton Street. It's distinctive, because unlike the other covered trailers, Badgers on the Beach is a traditional shiny steel hot dog cart, "a top-of-the-line American Bulldog model," assures cart co-owner Ian Peterson. Their sign with their logo, a badger and a palm tree, should be coming soon.
Peterson, 21, and partner Alex Davis, 19, started Badgers on the Beach about four weeks ago. Though the cart is of the typical New York hot dog vendor style, Peterson and Davis are not selling hot dogs, but rather Caribbean-inspired foods.
The two, who are high school friends from their hometown of Eau Claire, were inspired by a Puerto Rican family they know and the foods they've shared with them. Peterson's brother helped with financing, and the inaugural menu items are a pulled pork sandwich ($4, or $6 with rice or chips and a drink), the "Jamaican Me Crazy" black bean chili (which is vegan; $4) and arroz con gandules (rice and beans, also vegan; $3). The chili can be served over rice for an additional $1, or over the pulled pork, also for an additional $1. If you're looking for a super filling and economical lunch, that would be the combo to pick -- lots of tender pork, plenty of chili.
The chili itself comes with some unusual but tasty ingredients, including carrots and potatoes. It's not very spicy; that can be adjusted to individual taste with bottles of hot sauce available on the cart.
Both are students -- Davis is a UW-Madison student majoring in computer science who's taking the semester off; Peterson attends Madison College, where he is majoring in hotel motel management. He's also the primary cook.
Despite the Badgers' lack of cover at the cart, they plan to tough it out through "most weather scenarios" with the possible exception of a rain-snow combo event, says Peterson. They'll be on West Dayton at 11 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, and are currently looking into the possibility of late night vending at the cul de sac of Frances Street (near State Street Brats). The West Dayton spot is the weekday plan until the next cart changing period in April.
Badgers on the Beach is also available for catering, and is providing updates on its menu via Facebook.